It all came down to Katarina Johnson-Thompson (coach: Mike Holmes) versus the clock, and the Liverpool Harrier didn’t disappoint, storming to 2.12.78 to set a new British record and win the European Indoor Championship pentathlon.
Second after three events, the UK long jump record holder did what she did in the high jump earlier, setting a pentathlon championship best performance of 6.89m to regain the lead and set up a tilt at the world record. With a packed O2 Arena watching on, the 22 year old stormed around the four laps of the track to take her first senior title, just missing out on the world record but becoming only the second athlete in history to score 5000 points or better.
“I’m happy. My emotions are a bit all over the place. I can’t be disappointed with my first gold in a senior championship. I scored 5000 points and I’m completely satisfied with that.
“I have got a future and I will be doing pentathlon next year at the World Indoor Championships in Eugene, which are exciting and hopefully I can get the world record there.”
The British records didn’t stop there, with Morgan Lake (Eldon Lake) also setting a new personal best of 4527 to break the British junior record and break the age 17 world best. Along the way the youngster set personal bests in both the hurdles and the shot put to finish ninth overall.
“I guess that was a solid day. I wasn’t overly pleased with it, but I was only a few points off the world record so can’t be too disheartened. I was kind of targeting the world record (going into the 800m) and I knew I had to run about 2.20 lows but I paced it really badly.”
GB & NI’s hurdlers were also in fine form, with Lucy Hatton (George Maciukiewicz) and Serita Solomon (Michelle Bovell) winning silver and bronze in an exciting women’s race. Both women lined up in the final having set new personal bests in the semis, and incredibly they did it again in the final with Hatton running 7.90 and Solomon just three hundredths of a second further back.
Both women have come on leaps and bounds this indoor season, with Hatton in particular improving her personal best by just short of half a second, so the pair were naturally delighted with the result. Hatton, who is part of the British Athletics Futures programme said:
“I’m lost for words and very thankful and just very happy right now. All I said was if I got into the final I’d be very proud and I’m just so happy with everything that’s happened today and it’s been the best experience. I’m just looking forward to the future!
“It’s been emotional. Before the final I was in tears because just the whole experience in itself is so amazing. I’m so happy it’s done so I can go celebrate and cry my eyes out and then be happy!”
“I wasn’t expecting it! I was standing on the start line and they were saying I was the surprise. You never know; you go out there to run your best so it was a surprise to me but a good surprise!
“It’s definitely great for British girls hurdling. We’re pushing each other which will be good on the world stage and next stop worlds!”
Following on from the women, Lawrence Clarke (Malcolm Arnold) ran a valiant race, saving his best performance for the final, however just falling short of a medal. The French took a clean sweep of the medals with GB & NI captain Clarke having to settle for fifth in 7.63.
“I am actually quite pleased as I made a complete hash of the first two rounds and I have come back and run one of my quicker times of the season.
“As I have been saying the aim of the season has been consistency, so to run 7.63 again in the European Championship final, I could not ask for much more.”
Much like his heat this morning, David Omoregie acquitted himself well to run 7.75, just five hundredths of a second down on his personal best. Whilst the 19 year old ended up eighth in his semi-final and didn’t progress, he was still pleased with the experience and keen to use this as a stepping stone to bigger and better things.
Seren Bundy-Davies (Stephen Ball) did just about enough to make the women’s 400m final, as a photo-finish awarded her the third and final qualifying spot from semi-final two. After being crowded out at the break, Bundy-Davies composed herself and fought hard in the home straight to clock 53.00, which eventually saw her through.
“I got out pretty well and I felt like I was in a good position at 200 but that trip made me work. I’m just glad I held it together and really happy I dipped. I’m going to get out a bit faster in the final and attack it. I’m just happy I held my own.”
Despite finishing first and second in their heats, Laura Maddox (Colin Bovell) and Kirsten McAslan (Trevor Painter) found the going a little too tough in a fast first semi-final as they missed out on the top three spots needed to advance. McAslan finished strongest of the pair to take fourth in 53.49, with Maddox sixth in 53.89.
Jarryd Dunn (Keith Holt) made up for what he described as a rubbish run in his heat to clock an improved 47.29 from lane one and finish fifth in his semi-final. This obviously wasn’t enough for a final spot, but the Birchfield man acknowledged how much better he ran this afternoon when he just went out and enjoyed the experience.
In the first of the two men’s 3000m heats, Lee Emmanuel (Joe Franklin) and Phil Hurst (Martin Crowe) both looked in impressive form, with Emmanuel cruising to a second place finish, whilst Hurst finished strongly just one place behind in third. With four automatic final spots up for grabs, both men made sure of their places in tomorrow’s final. Tom Lancashire (Steve Vernon) didn’t fair quite as well in the faster second heat though, finishing eleventh.
Isobel Pooley (Fuzz Ahmed) was the only field eventer in action on Friday afternoon, and she was disappointed with her performance as she bowed out of high jump qualifying with a best of 1.82m.
Full coverage can been across the BBC all weekend, via BBC 1, BBC 2, the red button and online at bbc.co.uk/sport.
Live results throughout the weekend can be found at: https://www.european-athletics.org/competitions/european-athletics-indoor-championships/2015/schedules-results/
There will also be live commentary of all the action via @BritAthletics on twitter, as well as session by session reports at www.britishathletics.org.uk